Kristin Schwab's blog

If you're having difficulty embodying a character you're dancing in a ballet, you might want to schedule some reading time before the performance.

It sounds like there's a little turmoil over at the Royal Ballet. The Telegraph has reported that soloist Dawid Trzensimiech left the company for a principal contract at the National Romanian Ballet, citing a "lack of care and coaching." Meanwhile, the Royal's corps de ballet was recently in talks with their union about being overworked. (The compromise resulting from the discussions is a lunch break scheduled into the dancers' days.)

We've talked about the benefits of caffeine many times before. It can boost your short term memory and improve your physical performance. But drinking coffee has always come with a warning: Just a few cups can lead to dehydration.

Good news for our Joffrey Ballet-obsessed readers: You now have a chance to work alongside the Chicago companyon a full scholarship. The Joffrey Studio Company will launch with the 2014-15 season. Like most second companies, it will serve as a bridge between student and professional life. The 10 members, all of whom will receive full scholarships, will study alongside trainees and have opportunities to perform with the main company.

First "Bunheads" and now "Breaking Pointe"—it seems like the ballet-on-television trend might be on its way out.

The CW has announced that it has not ordered a third season of "Breaking Pointe," the docudrama following Ballet West. The news isn't particularly surprising, as "Breaking Pointe" had very low ratings throughout the show's first season, and continued to fall during its second. Nevertheless, we'll miss our weekly dose of soapy ballet.

Here at Pointe, we just can't get enough of San Francisco Ballet's Maria Kochetkova. Yes, she's an incredible powerhouse dancer, but she's got personality, too. Last night, she posted a delightfully silly Instagram video of her messing around in the studio. She is impressively flexible: This is over-splitting at its finest.

Sleeping Beauty includes some of ballet's most cherished variations. (Hands up if you learned "Bluebird" as your first variation ever!) This month in 1890, Petipa's ballet premiered at the Imperial Theatre, and it became a favorite first in Russia and eventually around the world.

Let's celebrate with this video of the incomparable Sylvie Guillem dancing Aurora's wedding pas de deux variation with the Paris Opéra Ballet.

 

Ballet dancers layer on a cringe-worthy amount of makeup for performance—pancake, lipstick, eyelash glue—but most probably don't think twice about the chemicals in the products they're using. Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Database allows you to search most major cosmetic and bath products, and alerts you when they include ingredients that have been known to cause cancer, skin irritation, allergies and more. Overwhelmed?

Pointe shoes are just as fascinating to us ballet veterans as they are to non-dance folks—especially when you're looking at how the star dancers modify their own. Recently, the New York Times followed New York City Ballet dancers backstage during Nutcracker performances to see how they customize the 10–12 pairs they each go through a week. While the article explains a lot of what we already know about shoe prep, it's cool to compare your own methods to NYCB's stars. Tiler Peck uses the slam-the-box-against-the-wall method. Janie Taylor closes them in doors.

Huddling around the TV to watch the glitzy Times Square ball drop is a classic New Years' Eve moment. Let's kick off the celebration with a video of one of the most sparkly ballets out there—"Diamonds" from George Balanchine's Jewels. "To me, [the "Diamonds" finale] feels like fireworks," says Pacific Northwest Ballet principal Carla Körbes. "Like a celebration." I'll cheers to that!

 

From everyone at Pointe, best wishes as you move into 2014.